Travellers’ camp plan on landfill site is rejected

Part of Welbeck Tip in Normanton.
Part of Welbeck Tip in Normanton.

Wakefield Council have ruled out creating a traveller’s camp at a controversial landfill site.

The local authority is looking at several potential places for a permanent site in a bid to deter travellers from setting up illegal camps.

Concerns had been raised that the waste management facility at Welbeck in Normanton was under consideration for a camp, but the council has now said this is not the case.

Deputy council leader Denise Jeffery said: “We are looking at a number of locations for a transit travellers site to provide them with a suitable place and to help put a stop illegal encampments in the district.

“Although we are at the very early stages of this process and no decisions have been made, I can reassure residents that Welbeck is not under consideration.

“We have made a commitment to providing a country park at Welbeck, once it has been fully restored and this remains our priority for this area.

“I fully understand that this can often be a sensitive issue and we are working to ensure that an appropriate site is identified as quickly as possible. I ask residents to bear with us and we will share more information as soon as we can.”

Wakefield is under increasing pressure to provide accommodation for travellers, with more people from the community arriving into the district from other parts of West Yorkshire.

At a meeting in May, the council’s head of planning enforcement, said there was a “deficiency” of appropriate sites and that more needed to be found

Welbeck itself has been a source of anger for local residents, who argue that its existence is creating an environmental hazard and that plans to turn it into a green space may never come to fruition.

Planning permission for the landfill site to keep running expired last month, though it has continued to operate ever since. The managers of the site have applied for an eight year extension, but this has yet to be formally approved.

Paul Dainton, who has campaigned against the landfill site for 20 years, welcomed the latest development.

In an email to supporters he said: “Further to the numerous calls and callers to my home last week regarding a camp on Welbeck I requested an urgent meeting with council leader Peter Box, regarding the promises given over 20 years that Welbeck....would be returned to a wildlife country park complete with public footpaths and bridal paths.

“I am pleased to announce that the leader of the council gave me a categorical promise that this would not be the case and that there would not be a transit camp situated on any of the Welbeck property.”